LGBTI associations from seven countries in the West Balkans and Turkey came together between 18-26 July in Belgrade to form a regional network association.
Source: “Balkanlar ve Türkiye Bölgesel LGBTİ Ağı Derneği Kuruldu”, (“The Balkans and Turkey Regional LGBTI Network Association Is Founded”), Pembe Hayat, 27 July 2015, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=827
After a year of planning coordinated by Labris, a twenty-year old lesbian association based in Belgrade, the regional network initiative is becoming an association in September.
Formed by 27 organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey, the new regional network association was accorded the name [the] Equal Rights Association (ERA).
The participant organizations debated issues relating to strategic planning, analysis, bylaws, membership procedures, leadership procedures, and activity plans during a week-long meeting in Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade. The representatives of the 27 participant organizations also debated the name of the association, its logo, the location of its headquarters, and related procedures.
The Balkans and Turkey Equal Rights Association, or ERA as it will be known in short, will be registered as an association by 15 September 2015. Based in Belgrade, the association is expected to start activities in October.
Joined by Pembe Hayat, Kaos GL, Listag, and SPoD from Turkey, the association will dedicate its first year to capacity building and recruiting more LGBTI organizations to its ranks.
Focusing on the countries currently integrating to the European Union, ERA will work to bring LGBTI and human rights records to the negotiation table and highlight the countries’ records on discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics. The ERA will also conduct advocacy work in collaboration with international organizations such as the European Council, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency. ILGA Europe and Transgender Europe have supported the founding of the ERA and its prospective work in bringing visibility to LGBTI issues in the Balkans and Turkey.
From August onwards, the ERA will issue a call for applications for candidates for the executive board from member organizations. The members of the executive board will be elected in the first general assembly of the association, scheduled to take place on 15 September 2015.